CRN Exclusive: Samsung B2B Chief Discusses Channel Opportunities For The New Galaxy Note8

New Phone, New Partner Opportunities

Samsung on Wednesday unveiled its newest Galaxy Note model, the Note8. The company touts this phone as enterprise friendly, with enhanced security and multi-tasking features, improved hardware design and a stylus for taking notes.

CRN talked to Samsung B2B chief Kevin Gilroy about what channel opportunities partners can find in the Galaxy Note8 and how Samsung partners can sell solution-driven mobile solutions to the enterprise using Samsung's newest phone.

Gilroy, a channel veteran who has been overseeing major investments in the company's channel initiatives, said that the channel is a "big part" of Samsung's future. Following are excerpts from CRN's conversation with Gilroy.

What recent investments have you made in Samsung's channel?

We hired Mike Coleman to run our channel. He's a highly skilled channel leader, and we've asked him to re-engineer the whole mobile channel program and recruit the right channel partners. So we've doubled the channel team, and we'll continue to make major investments in the channel team, we just rolled out our certifications program for partners, we're making major marketing and enablement investments in the channel, so the channel is a big part of our future.

Why should partners invest in enterprise mobility solutions?

What's in it for the channel is a couple of things: One, it's a huge business. If you look at the total addressable market of mobility it's $38 billion, so it's an enormous business, and it's not just devices anymore. If you looked back just three years ago, the channel might say that they didn't want to sell devices because they sell complex solutions – but mobility is now complex solutions. When you think about a phone, what goes around it is Knox software, application software, middleware software, mobile device management security software, services – and you start to have a really attractive revenue stream from the top line.

What are you seeing in terms of channel partner interest in mobility solutions?

The other thing for the channel is if they don't get on the mobility bandwagon, they're going to get outflanked. The customers need mobility. Partners need to go on the offensive and make mobility part of their overarching economic model. It's large and important, and the margins are there, and it drags a tremendous amount of services.

I think it's a bell curve. There are the early adopters who understand and get it, and they'll knock it out of the park. And there's fast followers coming in, and then there are laggards who are missing the curve. But we know they're dialing in – we're talking to them, and we're making big investments on those partners.

Are there particular vertical markets where you see strong channel adoption?

Yes – transportation, airlines, trucking, retail, health care is enormous, with doctors now able to take notes on their phone … we really spend a lot of time learning workflows and business problems, not just selling devices. Nobody does that better than the channel. They're local, they know their customers better than anybody. If you're a customer, that intimacy has tremendous value.

What features in the Galaxy Note8 do you think will be most beneficial for partners?

I think the S-Pen is huge for channel partners, I think the biometric authentication is big with what it means for security . [In terms of] deployment, we were talking to a large manufacturer in the tech industry and they said when they launch a new phone the Help Desk gets 2.7 phone calls per deployment. We've gotten that down to less than one by understanding where that pain point will come in. The channel plays a huge role in all of that.

How are your partners and customers benefiting thechannelcertification program that Samsung launched in August?

When a channel partner goes on a sales pursuit and invests an enormous amount of money on pre-sales, sales calls, etc., we don't want the customer just to buy it on the street without any certifications, because that's risk. So we protect the partners' investment, we de-risk the deployment and the experience of the customer by having certified partners – so this is good for the customers and the channel. It shows who is willing to make the investment to become certified, and not just opportunistically pick up a deal here and there but really make a commitment to mobility.

What channel opportunities do partners see in IoT?

IoT ties into the digitization of shop floors and workflows – when you digitize the factory shop floor, there are all sorts of endpoint devices besides tablets and phones that play a role like cameras and beacons. There's a lot of long tail in IoT, but there are some big chunky pieces – including big plays in manufacturing and health care.

For channel adoption, there are early adopters who are writing software, and more ISVs than traditional reseller channel partners. And more of the cutting-edge types of partners who are verticalized in manufacturing and other markets. But it's here to stay.

In January, Samsung expanded its Alliances Partner Program to invest in building partnerships with systems integrators. How is that going?

We're building that team out. We look at alliances in three pieces –traditional ISVs, people who are writing on top of Knox as a platform or writing applications for our devices. System integrators from large ones like Accenture to small local ones. And then we look at tech partners, like IBM, HPE, VMware and other technical partners. We're making major investments in all three types of partners. The ecosystem is something that is very important for us to continue to grow – while we can solve a lot of solutions, we need to extend our ability for these solutions with partners from these categories.

What are your goals for the channel moving forward?

We have aggressive goals – double- and triple-digit growth goals. We see the channel business growing at strong double digits, aspirationally, with certain products in the triple digits. We'll reveal more on that shortly. Our ecosystem is broad and growing quickly; channel partners should get on board with us.